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SPH in strong financial position to navigate changing media landscape

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) is in a strong financial position to tap into new growth opportunities as it navigates a new media landscape.

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) is in a strong financial position to tap into new growth opportunities as it navigates a new media landscape.

Stating that the company has financial reserves of S$1.2 billion, and a gearing ratio of 35 per cent, its chief executive officer Alan Chan said at Tuesday's annual general meeting that SPH was in a strong position to invest in new projects and fund new acquisitions.

This comes as SPH's core newspaper business maintained its strength in the face of changing media consumption patterns, said chairman Lee Boon Yang.

"This was achieved by reaching out to more readers on their mobile devices while continuing to promote our print products," he added at Tuesday's annual general meeting.

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Dr Lee noted that SPH's print publications have strengthened their digital offerings over the past year, with The Business Times and The Straits Times undergoing major revamps. Their digital apps and websites now provide users with a faster, sharper and more stable experience.

It also gave advertisers more advertising options across multiple platforms.

"Our newsrooms have successfully transformed into multimedia centres to deliver news to our readers, any time, on any device, anywhere," he said.

Looking ahead, the company is entrenching itself in the digital landscape. Aside from investments into platforms, the SPH Media Fund collaborated with Plug and Play and Infocomm Investments to launch an accelerator programme in April 2015. Called SPH Plug and Play, the programme identifies young companies with potential and nurtures them into strong and sustainable businesses across media sectors.

Separately, SPH Reit Management announced that it has appointed Rachel Eng as an independent non-executive director to its Board with effect from Tuesday.

SPH's net profit fell 20.4 per cent to S$321.7 million in the year ended Aug 31 as smaller fair-value gains on investment properties offset a slight increase in recurring operating profit.

It earlier declared a final dividend of 13 Singapore cents per share, comprising a normal dividend of eight Singapore cents per share and a five Singapore cents per share special dividend. The total dividend payout for fiscal 2015 will be 20 Singapore cents, slightly below the 21 cent-per-share payout in fiscal 2014.


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